01 - Broken Troops
02 - Above Fairyland
03 - Exhausted Heart
04 - Ascending to Heaven
05 - Harsh Battle
06 - Eternal Melody
Released through Falcom's website as a bonus item along with the game, Gensosangokushi Super Arrange Version is an exciting but short work from Falcom's newest in-house arranger, Yukihiro Jindo. Previously, Jindo had done work on the Legend of Heroes VI Super Arrange Version, and he has gone on to do work on the Ys: Oath in Felghana Super Arrange Version. In-between these albums, Falcom fans were treated to this neat little album. And may I emphasize the word "little"? With only six tracks, running under thirty minutes, this album is indeed a little short and could have benefited from having more songs arranged from the 45-track OST.
The album opens with the intense theme song "Broken Troops", and the experience is not very different from the opening track from LoH VI SAV, "Silver Will." With the exclusion of the electric guitar in GS, the songs use the same sorts of instruments, and even the melodies end up sounding similar. Jindo often makes use of some amazing violin synth that I suspect he's either invented himself or else has some exclusive rights to, because it is absolutely brilliant. Jindo's arrangement actually has two violins: one on harmony, and the other often following it on a third or sixth interval, depending on what octave the melodic violin is reaching. Behind these violins are some pumpin' techno beats and the occasional piano filler to keep the song moving. The result is sheer brilliance, much like "Silver Will" was on LoH VI. Kudos to you, Jindo! You have a successful formula for arranging songs, and I hope to see you do it many more times in your career.
Next up is "Above Fairyland." It is at this point that we must obviously recognize that Falcom didn't create the OST; the music was originally composed by UserJoy, the company that also developed the game (I believe they are based in Hong Kong, but I am not sure: I know they are not based in Japan, but that's all I know). The music is slow and simple, but the melody carried on a traditional Asian stringed instrument (both plucked and bowed) sounds wonderful. This is a relaxing song to be sure, and worth having on the album.
Then we reach the first of two vocal songs. In its original version, "Exhausted Heart" was sung by a male in Chinese, and it was accompanied by little more than an acoustic guitar; now it is sung by a female in Japanese, and is accompanied by R&B groove beats and a smooth bass line. This version also features a wurlitzer solo over a guy rapping in Japanese; it sounds silly to me, but I think that the placement of this section within the song was a good choice on Jindo's part. Between this version and the original version, I much prefer this version. The song itself is a melancholy ode to love and loss, but making it a slow dance-pop song was an interesting decision that I stand by as a good one.
"Ascending to Heaven" makes more use of traditional Asian instruments, but in composition it sounds more like a battle theme for one of your favorite oldschool action games (such as Double Dragon or Ninja Gaiden). This song rules on about every level, but it does not vary much from its original version. Jindo simply added the more powerful synth and perhaps some more in-your-face percussion, and the arrangement was done. I like the song, but I like it just as much on the OST.
The same cannot be said about "Harsh Battle", however. Jindo made some significant improvements to this song, not just in choice of synth, but also in terms of adding harmony and syncopation to the song's structure. The result is a pulse-pounding excursion into the world of an ancient Chinese battlefield, and I think this song does more justice to the exciting historical account than any Dynasty Warriors soundtrack out there. Yet again, Jindo is rockin'.
And now, we have already reached the album's somewhat abrupt end. "Eternal Melody" is a beautiful vocal, the second on this album. Retaining a female vocalist (like the original), the song is now sung in Japanese instead of Chinese. Jindo also upgraded the accompanying piano and string parts that enter later in the song. This vocalist has a lighter and less nasal sound than the original vocalist, so I yet again prefer Jindo's version to the OST version. The vocals on this album alone are enough to sell me.
The problem is, even if Falcom "sells" this album to me, I can't just pick it up separately...unless I get it through a trade or an online auction. Falcom offered this album (and the OST) solely through purchasing the game; and I have no desire to play an RPG that doesn't have English text. For you Falcom fans, even those that enjoy the games that Falcom merely publishes and does not develop, good luck getting this album.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann